Style Profile: Fashion Designer William Malcolm

William Malcolm — who’s known for his sharp, bespoke suits — shares his passion for mentoring young men across Detroit, spreading positivity and the art of dressing

By Rachel Schostak

Photography by Shawn Lee Studios

As the founder and designer behind William Malcolm Luxe Collection, William Malcolm is passionate about creating cutting-edge menswear, becoming a favorite of everyone from NFL players to Lincoln Motor Company, which has commissioned him to design a capsule collection inspired by its cars.

But Malcolm — who recently rolled out a bespoke wedding collection and custom footwear line — also knows that there’s more to life than looking good: He’s at the helm of several charitable endeavors dedicated to mentoring and empowering young men across Detroit, and he hosts a weekly radio program that aims to “inspire, uplift and motivate my listeners to become dreamers in action,” he says. (Catch him every Saturday at 10 a.m. on WLQV 1500 AM.) “I believe that every one of us can live a life of passion and purpose,” he adds. We asked him to tell us more.

What inspired you to start William Malcolm Luxe Collection? I had a successful career in the financial services field, but like many people, I was not fulfilled. Ten years ago my wife challenged me to do what would make me truly happy. I left my career and launched William Malcolm Luxe Collection, and I haven’t looked back.

Did you always like fashion?  Growing up my mother had a sewing room in our home and I would watch her create trousers, shirts and suits for my father and me. In high school I started to develop my own sense of style: I would wear neckties, button-ups and loafers while my classmates were wearing tracksuits and sneakers. 

Where do you find inspiration for your designs? I find daily inspiration in art, classic films and architecture. A favorite artist of mine is [early 20th century American painter] William H. Johnson. I love how he incorporated vibrant color into his paintings. It’s in this same vein that I create and design my pieces. I want to design garments that aren’t the typical pinstripe, navy and black.

 Who is the person wearing your designs? Modern successful men who love to make a statement.

Your clientele includes professional athletes, businessmen, and tastemakers around the world…who do you love dressing most? I love working with all of our clients. However, there is something about designing for a client that has never had a suit or tuxedo that was created specifically for him that excites me. I love seeing the young men that are a part of my “Suited To Speak” youth public speaking initiative in my bespoke suits. As part of the program each young is gifted a bespoke suit.

 How did your partnership with Lincoln Motor Company came about? Lincoln Motor Company contacted me to design a capsule collection for the relaunch of the Lincoln Continental. I created a collection that was inspired by Lincoln Motor Company’s curated Black Label Design Themes. We launched the collaboration at a star studied fashion event in Atlanta. The entire project was captured and filmed by a film crew. The completed film was released by Lincoln Motor Company as part of the automotive brand’s design spotlight series.

Tell us about your charitable ventures. I’m very involved in causes for positive change. I founded my nonprofit, Fashion Means Nothing:The William Malcolm Foundation, to impact others through various initiatives, including the Dream Kings, a male mentor program, and Suited to Speak, a youth public-speaking initiative.

Who’s your style icon? Cary Grant. He exudes class, sophistication and refinement. His films taught me that the most important component of a man in a suit is the man himself.

Besides your brand, are there any other menswear designers you wear? Everyone jokes about it, but I pretty much live in my suits.

 Who inspires you in the fashion industry? Virgil Abloh inspires me. He started by remixing Nikes and customizing them. By doing so, he created his own market. He took someone else’s clothing/brand, and transformed it with his own style.  When I look at launching, I research his story and branding and see that he was able to collaborate with Nike, Louis Vuitton, etc. And even now, he isn’t containing himself to just fashion — he’s getting into dishes, houseware, various items, etc. Once you get that brand and buzz, you can lend that awareness to anything else. I really would love to do that with Detroit-specific pieces I want to create.

 You’re never fully dressed without _____  A William Malcolm Label Kandy lapel flower on my suit lapel.    

What’s the most cherished item in your wardrobe/closet? The first William Malcolm Luxe Collection suit that I designed.

Who would you like to collaborate with in the future? I’m really trying to take my designs and be more specific in highlighting Detroit. Instead of brands like DKNY that highlight other states and cities, I want to be one that puts Detroit on the map. If I were to choose a brand, it would be something local that shines light and brings awareness to the city.

We love your Instagram account, @thestyleartist. Which accounts do you love to follow for fashion inspiration? I follow a wide variety of Instagram accounts. My daily feed consists of menswear, interior design, and artists of all mediums. Some accounts I love are, @pittiphotos, @thesartorialist and @blackmenandsuits.

What’s your favorite quote or words to live by? I compete with myself every day, sometimes I lose, sometimes I win. But even when I lose I am a winner – William Malcolm

Head to toe outfit details:

Outfit 1: Bespoke black leather and stain three piece tuxedo, bespoke shirt, accessories, footwear and handmade wood sunglasses, all custom from William Malcolm Luxe Collection.

Outfit 2: Bespoke blue cashmere and blue fox shawl-collard overcoat, bespoke three-piece camouflage suit, bespoke shirt, accessories and footwear, all custom from William Malcolm Luxe Collection.

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